Groove with Me’s Parent Observation Week started on Saturday. Students’ families sat in the studio and I was encouraged to have parents participate during class. I was pretty nervous; I wasn’t sure how my girls would react and the thought of even mildly reprimanding poor behavior in front of parents gave me butterflies.
While we were warming up, I realized my anxiety was for nothing. It’s too bad we don’t have an audience of parents every week; the 10 girls who came to class were on their best behavior. They knew it was a special class, and certainly treated it as such—they were quiet, focused and smiley. My co-teacher and I sped through our planned activities, and I was able to delve a bit deeper into lessons I usually race through due to inattentiveness. No one even asked to use the restroom or get water!
But their “perfect” behavior was deceptive. When I said it was time to play Freeze Dance—the all-time favorite, giggle inducing, go nuts part of class—no one budged. I had to coax them into dancing around, and for most of the game I was the only person actually moving. A few students stood still and practiced their arm positions, unsure of what would please me, or the audience. I soon realized the beginning of class had gone so smoothly because they were too nervous to be themselves.
So in the end, I learned that nerves are not the answer. Sure, I love the distant thought of frightening them into obedience…but at the stake of stifling their creativity? No thank you.
Photo of Freeze Dance first played on a 1989 episode of Sesame Street. Ballet dancer Anne Marie DeAngelo and hip hopper Skeeter Rabbit perform together while kids call out "Stop! Now dance!" I've never forgotten this segment; my toddler self thought the fusion of styles was Earth-shattering.